Rosie Larson describes her self-named restaurant as “just a Mom and Pop place. It’s really nothing fancy.” Some might disagree, but fancy really doesn’t matter when a place and its owner have so much warmth and charm.
Much of the restaurant’s appeal comes from its setting within a Nipomo house that dates to at least 1913; anecdotal evidence suggests it may even be older. It was up for sale when Larson and her husband, Greg, spotted it and thought “this would lend itself beautifully to a restaurant.”
Getting the structure to that point required a lot of patience and a lot of TLC — about three years worth, in fact — before Rosie’s Restaurant opened in April 2011. Throughout the process, the couple made it a point to work with what the house had to offer, leaving as much of the original materials and innate character as possible. That extends right down to the wooden floors and even to the mismatched vintage china plates that Larson delightfully selected from thrift stores and yard sales.
The entrance to the restaurant is through the former front porch area, and once inside you feel as though you’ve been welcomed into someone’s home. Each of the dining areas is a room with its own color scheme, accented with vintage décor that in some cases includes some truly classic wallpaper. (The layout allows Rosie’s to conveniently handle groups and/or special occasions without compromising other diners.)
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This is Larson’s first foray into the restaurant world, but she readily acknowledges that she’s “always been involved with cooking, and I’ve been playing with food for a long time!” An early fascination with recipes blended into a knack for throwing dinner parties, which led to her being a go-to person for service club fundraisers — an experience that “taught me cooking for big numbers of people.”
In developing the approachable menu for Rosie’s, Larson “wanted to make it reasonable, to make it home style,” and she hit the mark on both. The portions are generous and comfortably priced, as is the wine list. She’s also managed to include a wide array of selections, especially when you include daily specials such as shepherd’s pie with parsnips and prime rib, or scallops with angel hair pasta and spinach.
The handful of appetizers ranges from fried artichokes to coconut shrimp to pincho — a chickpea mash served with guacamole and shrimp on bread. Soup choices are French onion, seafood chowder and chicken noodle.
Entrées include a rolled chicken breast with ham and cheese, a New York steak, and a grilled pork chop with sautéed mushrooms. Or opt for dinnersize Caesar salads, or several pastas running the gamut from spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken fettuccini Alfredo or Cajun pasta with shrimp. Basics such as a burger and a four-cheese mac ‘n’ cheese are also available, as is the rather offbeat soul food classic of fried chicken and a waffle complete with maple syrup!
If you’re still hungry after dinner — which includes bread and various sides of mashed potatoes and gravy, a salad or fries, depending on your order — the dessert lineup will tempt you with carrot cake, strawberries with angel food cake, or “Rosie’s Bombdigiteeeeeeeeee.” Composed of a slice of cheesecake and a slice of chocolate mousse liberally topped with raspberry sauce, berries, and whipped cream, this decadent dish deserves every one of those 10 “e”s!